Expeditions: Viking - Indie Game Reviews 2017

Genre: RPG / Strategy / Tactics
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Yes

Expeditions: Viking is a Strategy/Tactical RPG game where you take control of a band of Norsemen in 790 AD. The game process is split into three parts: global map (of Denmark and England), questing locations (think Neverwinter Nights) with real-time movement and conversations, and then same locations that switch to turn-based combat when battle starts.

The Good

  • The world is really big and there’s lots of things to do. However, when I was playing, I never felt swamped with quests: it’s like every location balances on what it gives, so you don’t have a 20+ quest log, but receive them gradually instead.
  • The quest themselves offer a good diversity of choice: there are multiple ways you can solve most of them, violent or not. The dialogs between characters remind heavily of Neverwinter Nights, and the actual quest plot quality is close to that level too.
  • Lots of possible character builds and interesting levelling system: there’s no levels per se, but you get the special upgrade points after questing / combat. As you gather more points – you can invest them in specializations for your crew: weapons, skills, utility stuff and some special perks. Overall more than 100 skills that you can level.
  • Deep turn-based combat: the tactical element of positioning your characters and using appropriate skills in the combat makes the game challenging, but not impossible to beat.
  • Solid graphics; the game has its own distinct style that puts you in a dark world of 8th century Europe.
  • Great music and sound effects that make you feel immersed in the game world.

The Bad

  • The biggest thing that breaks the immersion is lots of bugs in the quests: it seems that they often were made with assumption that player is going to take one exact sequence of actions. As an example, there’s a quest about Roman cult that is split into two parts: there are multiple branches, but overall if you descend to the dungeon and kill one branch leader and then pick his banner (without meeting the second one at first) – you’ll be asked to go to the dungeon again, pick the banner. Except there’s nobody there anymore, right? You killed them. Then the combat sequence starts, but there are zero enemies. After that: the combat instantly ends and another copy of the “unique banner” appears. Nothing gamebreaking (well, except for one in the beginning, when you can’t talk to Gunnar after killing him when I had to replay it, but it was fixed) – but that gives an impression that game did not have enough quality control.
  • Quest Locations could really use a minimap (like Diablo style). Pressing “M” all the time to open the map (and then close it) is really troublesome.
  • Loading times for large locations seem to be quite long

 

Overall, if it was not for the multiple minor bugs in quests: Expeditions: Viking would feel like a top quality AAA game. Everything is there: character build possibilities, diverse quests with lots of outcomes, resource and group management, global map with occasional random events. If you think you can look past through occasional bugs in quests – I highly recommend the game to tactical / strategy game fans, as well as people who just enjoy good plot and captivating quest writing.

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Feature Image taken from the Expeditions: Viking store page, here

Sonny - Indie Game Reviews 2017 Steam Screenshot

Genre: Turn-Based RPG
Game Page: Game On Steam
Should You Buy It: Not while controls/UI are like that

When you hear about the game “Sonny” some of you probably remember your teens: that was a really popular flash game. The same goes for me: I still have fond memories of playing it. This game on Steam, however, is not exactly a direct sequel of sonny1/2 from flash to PC. It’s a port from the iPhone game, made by the same author, based on the plot of the first game. It’s a turn-based RPG where you clear stages with your party, acquiring new skills and items in the process.

Pros

  • Content is decent. Lots of items, engaging plot (who does not like zombies?)
  • The combat system is well thought out: it’s easy to learn but hard to master, offers a solid challenge
  • Talent tree + possibility to evolve your abilities during battle, adjusting to your playstyle and improving the ways to defeat your enemies
  • Combat feels well polished: there’s really no attack animations for the character sprites, but hitting the enemies feel really good: lots of flashy numbers and colorful effects.
  • Solid and colorful graphics overall.
  • Sounds/music are good

Cons

  • All cons for me are essentially associated with UI/UX. The game might be ported to PC in terms of graphics, but UI/UX is still kept from Mobile. No difference between left / right / middle clicks in battle: if you want to see ability descriptions, you have to hold your CLICKED mouse button on them which screams “touch” from mobile. No skill hotkeys. The first flash game had similar mechanics, but it did not open a new window when you clicked the skill for description. That makes a huge difference. Here, when you want to check your skill out during the battle, you’ll also need to close the window with description (in case you don’t want to use it).
  • By the way, using right click on skill upgrade window teaches your character skill instantly in your talent tree. Learned it the hard way. So yes, there is a way to read about the talent, you just need to LEFT click it. The inconsistency is killing me.
  • Shop: no buy-and-equip at once. You have to buy your item, close the shop window, go to inventory window and equip your item there.
  • Hovering on stats does not explain them. There’s “Stat” info button that explains basic stats.
  • Big one: some debuffs are not visibly displayed on your character (you can find out that he’s debuffed only by clicking on him). Might not seem like a huge deal, but there’s literally a debuff that kills you when you attack.

Summary

Essentially, it feels like a good mobile game that tries to find the way to PC. By itself, there’s nothing bad in the fact, but the laziness in adjusting the UX for decent use on PC really breaks the experience. The game screams “mobile” right now. Honestly, I this is the first time I loved the the setting and gameplay, but was absolutely frustrated by the controls, as playing it on PC felt like playing the game on an oversized mobile. This type of controls work on mobile mostly for one reason: buttons are not too far from another due to smaller screen, you can simply touch them and navigating is much more convenient with your fingers. On pc, you have to scroll your mouse and click more buttons than necessary. The lack of hotkeys also hurts the game that requires you to do lots of clicking on skills. Overall, get it if the control issues are fixed. The gameplay is OK, but the controls are infuriating. If you have an iphone: get it there or wait for fixes on PC, I would not recommend this game in its current state, especially to Sonny fans out there. Better go replay the first game on the publishers website

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Feature Image taken from the Sonny store page, here